Going Lite!

Lighter luggage means less lugging

A few years ago, lugging a heavy bag along what turned out to be an interminable rail station platform with numerous tunnels and steps, I made a sort of Scarlett O’Hara-type pledge (remember, “I’ll never be hungry again,” she said.) My own pledge was something like “I’ll never travel with heavy luggage again!” Because even with the wheels and easy pulling techniques built-in to today’s best luggage choices, if you have to pick up that bag, it is a disaster – especially when trying to hoist it up steps, or into a train car or an overhead bin.

And, once you make the pledge, life gets easier; you learn how to pack lighter whether for a few days or 31 days, as I did not so long ago. My own theory is that if you can pack in a carry-on for a week, you can essentially go with that same carry-on for a month – and if you can go for a month you could theoretically go for a year – all with one piece of carry-on luggage!

Of course, you have to do laundry. Once you accept that fact as a constant, you are good to go. And then there are no European hotels without elevators, no train platforms, no rental cars with tiny trunks, in fact nothing that can stop you. In addition, you are traveling with a much lower profile altogether, more like Europeans travel. I remember at one French hotel the receptionist was shocked to find we were Americans because we had such small luggage. “Americans always travel heavy,” she told us, speaking from her experience.

Secrets of traveling light:

  • Build your wardrobe around one basic color — black, brown or navy;
  • Add color with your different shirts, tops and scarves;
  • Two pairs of shoes – stick to the “Wear one; Pack one™” rule; same with sweaters, bras, jackets, etc.
  • If you need to dress up, take a sparkly top to wear with black slacks or skirt;
  • Books? Forget it, take an e-reader.
  • Carry your essentials in a good-sized purse or tote bag – medications, money, passport, camera, flashlight, etc.
  • Remember, anything you forget, you can buy!

Read Merle’s Latest Article, “The Kaplans Take Morocco”

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